State Stories

31

Veteran Sportswriter Pens Decatur Area Prep Sports History Record Book

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Tom McNamara (right) is synonymous with high school sports in the Decatur area. He began covering prep sports as a sophomore in high school in 1957 and has been entrenched as the Decatur Tribune Sports Editor since 1976.

His love for records and history has resulted in a treasure trove for area prep sports fans in the form of his new (2014) record book “History of Decatur Area Prep Sports”. The exhaustive record book includes 1,000 point scorers from Decatur and Macon County, in addition to extensive coverage of records from the Okaw Valley, Little Okaw, Central State 8 and Big 12 Conferences to name a few.

To purchase a copy via mail, send $17 to J. Thomas McNamara at 4653 Redbud Court, Decatur, Il. 62526. The book is also available for $15 in Decatur at The Newsstand/Haines & Essick (150 E William St, Decatur, IL 62523).

In the book’s foreword, Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Mel Roustio calls it the “Macon County prep record bible.” Retired Tolono Unity High School principal, athletic director and coach Oscar Hicks called it a “memory book”, saying he “can still see them (the players in the book) playing in my mind.”

Tom is quick to point that the book isn’t “all-inclusive”, the result of some schools keeping better records than others or records being lost from closed schools like Lakeview High School and Stephen Decatur High School in Decatur. Tom talked about to IHSA State about the book and some of the memories along the way:

Q: How long have you been working on this book?
A: It’s been a passion of mine for a long time. I am 73 years old and have been writing in the Decatur area since 1957 after Bob Fallstrom at the Decatur Herald hired me during my sophomore at St. Teresa High School. I have always enjoyed research and started with a history on the Macon County Boys Basketball Tournament. People were always asking me questions about records, like ‘who are the 1,000 point scorers in area history.’ With help from coaches, athletic directors, the IHSA’s records, newspaper archives and people like Decatur historian Joe Trimmer, I expanded to conference records and then girls’ sports. About 10 years ago is when I realized that it might be nice to compile all of this information into a book and have been working toward that. I have a real passion for it and it has been a great experience.

Q: There are a lot of records in this book. Is there any stat or number that stands out among all of them?
A: Probably the 1,000 point scorers because of the history involved. The creation of the three-point line has really affected those numbers. Had there been a three-point line for guys like Roy Mosser (1,514 points at Warrensburg-Latham, 1973 graduate) and Don Walker (Eisenhower), who knows how many points they would have scored.

Q: Reflecting on your career, can you pick out a favorite team or season?
A: There are so many, but certainly the 2009 Meridian (Macon) boys basketball state champion team (above right) and the 2006-2007 Maroa-Forsyth title teams (football & basketball) because of the way they did it. (Maroa-Forsyth senior Robert) Robo Kreps (#3 below right) had an appendectomy 48 hours before the Super-Sectional and then toughed his way through the state tournament. That included playing a double-overtime game against Teutopolis in the semifinals and then turning around and having to play the championship game that night.

Q: What others stand out?
A: Maroa-Forsyth’s 2012 football title team. Central A&M had that great run under Mark Ramsey (five football state title games and one championship from 1992-2001). (Football coach) Scott Davis never got to a title game, but what he did at St. Teresa stands out (191-64 in 24 seasons). Ed Boehm led St. Teresa to state titles in the first two years of the playoffs (Class 2A in 1974 & 1975). The Okaw Valley Conference as we know it is ending. The conference has won so many state trophies in boys’ and girls’ basketball since 2003, it highlights just how good basketball is in central Illinois.

Q: Records aside, what is your favorite part of the job?
A: It is always really interesting to see where the coaches and players are today. For example, Scott Adreon led the Maroa-Forsyth basketball team to the county title in 1999 and now he is the principal at the school and a member of the IHSA Board of Directors. Randy Moss is the Athletic Director at Monticello High School currently, but he was in our area coaching basketball at Niantic-Harristown and led them to county titles in 1989 and 1993. I covered Chris Andriano when he was a wide receiver at Millikin University, where he was the MVP of the 1973 Boot Hill Bowl in Dodge City, Kansas. He has led Montini on their great run of four straight state football titles (2009-12). I have 100 stories like that. If you do this long enough, you see that many of them leave the sidelines, so it’s fun to see the success they have when they move on.